Dehydrator Example

The Food Dehydrator 3000 sample app illustrates basic standard PID controller usage. Specifically, the DehydratorController class utilizes Netduino.Foundation’s StandardPIDController to bring the dehydrator up to a specified temperature and uses an Analog Temperature Sensor to provide feedback.

Additionally, the dehydrator uses a PWM Signal to modulate the power of the heater element.

The salient usage is described below.

DehydratorController Constructor:

In the constructor, the PID controller is instantiated and configured. In the case of the dehydrator, only the ProportionalComponent and IntegralComponent are used to calculate the control output (DerivativeComponent is set to 0, effectively removing it from the control). This is because the derivative calculation is based on the rate of change, and it requires a very smooth sensor reading, but the temp sensor reading is fairly noisy. However, it doesn’t matter, as this still provides a very efficient control.

Additionally, the control output is clamped via the OutputMin and OutputMax properties between 0.0 and 1.0, which translates to 0% to 100% duty cycle of the PWM that controls the heater element. If the controller were used in an system that kept a boat on a heading, or a car between lines, then the clamp might be between something like -0.5 and 0.5, in which a negative value meant a left heading, and a positive value meant a right heading.

public DehydratorController(AnalogTemperature tempSensor, SoftPwm heater, Relay fan, SerialLCD display)
    _tempSensor = tempSensor;
    _heaterRelayPwm = heater;
    _fanRelay = fan;
    _display = display;

    _pidController = new StandardPidController();
    _pidController.ProportionalComponent = .5f; // proportional
    _pidController.IntegralComponent = .55f; // integral time minutes
    _pidController.DerivativeComponent = 0f; // derivative time in minutes
    _pidController.OutputMin = 0.0f; // 0% power minimum
    _pidController.OutputMax = 1.0f; // 100% power max
    _pidController.OutputTuningInformation = true;


TurnOn Method

When the dehydrator is turned on, the TurnOn method is called, which sets the temperature and running time, and then calls the StartRegulatingTemperatureThread method which is responsible for the bulk of the control work.

public void TurnOn(int temp, TimeSpan runningTime)
    // set our state vars
    TargetTemperature = (float)temp;
    this._runningTimeLeft = runningTime;
    this._running = true;

    // keeping fan off, to get temp to rise.
    this._fanRelay.IsOn = true;

    // TEMP - to be replaced with PID stuff
    this._heaterRelayPwm.Frequency = 1.0f / 5.0f; // 5 seconds to start (later we can slow down)
    // on start, if we're under temp, turn on the heat to start.
    float duty = (_tempSensor.Temperature < TargetTemperature) ? 1.0f : 0.0f;
    this._heaterRelayPwm.DutyCycle = duty;

    // start our temp regulation thread. might want to change this to notify.

StartRegulatingTemperatureThread Method

This method starts a new thread which is actually responsible for reading the temperature input from the sensor and calling the PID controller’s CalculateControlOutput method to determine the amount of power to provide to the heating element in order to bring the dehydrator up to the target temperature:

protected void StartRegulatingTemperatureThread()
    _tempControlThread = new Thread(() => {

        // reset our integral history

        while (this._running) {

            // set our input and target on the PID calculator
            _pidController.ActualInput = _tempSensor.Temperature;
            _pidController.TargetInput = this.TargetTemperature;

            // get the appropriate power level
            var powerLevel = _pidController.CalculateControlOutput();

            // set our PWM appropriately
            this._heaterRelayPwm.DutyCycle = powerLevel;

            // sleep for a while.

Next - Tuning PID (Coming Soon)


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